Consumers today don't just prefer customized brand interactions, they expect them.

With so much customer data available from interactions across various touchpoints, marketers are under more pressure than ever to take advantage of that data to improve customer experiences. In a recent survey, more than 60% of companies said they expect their Big Data marketing budgets to increase.

To remain competitive and cut through consumers' personal junk filters, brands need to use customer data to deliver Web experiences designed to appeal to each customer.

Web experiences should be based on real data about customers' context: time of day, weather, type of device, past purchasing behavior, and other information that reveals customers' unique circumstances. Drawing on that information will create meaningful experiences and keep customers coming back.

Moreover, in a world where consumers use multiple devices throughout their engagement with brands, marketers must rise to the challenge of meeting customers where they are. Marketing success is directly linked to the ability to deliver targeted customer experiences, and brands that can keep up with each customer's current context and needs will win brand loyalty.

Understanding Contextual Clues

The ability to deliver this type of experience lies in uncovering the contextual clues hidden within customer data, which is generated when consumers visit a brand's Web and mobile sites, for example. Marketers need to combine that Web data with valuable customer data from other channels to paint a full picture of the customer's context.

Organizations often make the mistake of using multiple technologies and processes to gather customer data from different sources. The downfall of this approach is that without seamlessly integrating all available knowledge about their customers, brands are not equipped to create the most relevant customer experience.

Marketers need to capture and analyze data-driven customer insights in real time and in one location if they are to offer consumers immediate and actionable options and relevant offerings tailored to the device used, time of day, language, browsing history, and other contexts.

In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, brands cannot afford to be one step behind their customers' context. Failure to aggregate all customer data points and use them to deliver hyper-relevant Web experiences will result in a disjointed brand experience via sporadic and ineffective campaigns.

To avoid this approach, which comes off as irrelevant one-off campaigns to consumers, brands need to focus on these three main areas.

1. Multi-channel experiences

The customer journey spans multiple devices at different times and places. The key is to maintain consistency across devices and types of interactions, regardless of how complex each customer's path may be. This includes maintaining a consistent brand image across touchpoints as well as ensuring that each interaction builds directly off the last, even if it is taking place on a new device.

2. Global Web-content management

There is much more to effective global Web presence than simply translating websites. Marketers need to consider local relevance and address both language and culture to create a truly contextual customer experience.

3. Rich media and video

Video and rich media marketing have become vital for engaging audiences. Visual impact can make all the difference between conveying information and creating an experience, an emotion and a desire to act.

Don't underestimate the power of compelling visuals for engaging your customers... and don't forget that the aesthetics of visuals should be consistent across channels and geared towards the customer's context.

* * *

By taking an outside-in approach, marketers can deliver experiences that match the preferences and unique context of each individual visitor. Impersonal, irrelevant Web campaigns will negatively impact customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and the bottom line.

Context cannot be ignored. As consumer demands grow and attention spans dwindle, using the Web to serve up the right experience to the right customer at the right time has never been more important.

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The Marketer's Secret Weapon: Web Contextualization

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image of Paige O'Neill

Paige O'Neill is CMO of Sitecore, a global leader in digital experience management software.

LinkedIn: Paige O'Neill

Twitter: @paige_oneill